Anyone who’s ever wandered past a Shortstop shop will have noticed the clusters of happy customers enjoying their incredible, freshly made filled and raised donuts. The person ultimately responsible for all this culinary happiness is Anthony Ivey, who started out as an engineer before working with us at Market Lane as a barista.
Anthony now owns and runs Shortstop Coffee and Donuts, which has locations in both Melbourne and Sydney. Shortstop has been a Market Lane wholesale customer since they opened in 2013 – they retail beans and serve our coffee in-store. We asked Anthony to tell us a bit about his history with donuts, and how he brews his coffee at home.
Market Lane Coffee: So, why coffee and donuts?
Anthony Ivey: During my late teens, I found myself spending a lot of my spare time at coffee shops. My mother noticed this and decided to gift me a small home espresso machine and a spice grinder. I was super excited to give it a go! I assumed it would be pretty easy, but my first attempt was a horrible failure – I ground the coffee way too fine, the shot choked, the group literally exploded, and coffee went everywhere! I didn't touch the coffee machine again for a few months. Eventually, I decided to do some research and give it another go – that's when I jumped down the rabbit hole and my coffee obsession truly began. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed learning the science, perfecting my technique and sharing delicious coffees with friends. Over the years, I became so passionate about coffee and the coffee industry that I ended up leaving my career in engineering to pursue a career in coffee. Over time, I realised that my passion for coffee had transitioned into a fascination for hospitality and service. And while my interest in coffee persisted, my passion became to serve others and provide hospitality – sharing delicious coffee was simply my favourite vehicle to do this.
It was always my plan to start my own small business and, when deciding on what to serve, I realised I didn't want to just resell some other business's cakes or croissants, I wanted to create something new! I am not a pastry chef, and so I wanted to pick something that seemed simple and approachable. Donuts! Little did I know, donuts are very difficult to do well and my first few attempts at working with yeast were a disaster and – just like with coffee – that initial failure spurred an obsessive desire to perfect the yeast raised donut. It was a lot of fun and, just like those early stages of making coffee, I loved learning the science of pastry, perfecting my technique and sharing my creations with friends and family.
Serving both coffee and donuts have become my favourite way to serve others, provide genuine hospitality and create an experience that has them walking away happier than before they came to us.
As you mentioned, back in 2009 you decided to walk away from a career in engineering to pursue a livelihood in hospitality and (eventually) open Shortstop Coffee and Donuts. Was there anyone particularly influential to you in those early days? Who is inspiring you today?
James Hoffmann was a huge inspiration in those early days. Before I took on my first coffee job in late 2009, I spent countless hours reading through the entire back catalogue of James's blog – jimseven.com. Back in 2009, specialty coffee was a fairly new concept and it was inspiring to me to be able to find others who were equally as curious and passionate about elevating coffee quality and the cafe experience. James continues to be an amazing coffee resource through his regular YouTube videos and I still try to make the time to tune in to learn something new.
Today, Danny Meyer of the Union Square Hospitality Group has become one of the biggest influences on my approach to hospitality. His book, Setting the Table, is a book that I still return to regularly and is prescribed reading for anyone that wants to step into a managerial role with us at Shortstop.
What is the most popular donut at Shortstop? Which one flies off your shelf the fastest?
It depends on the store. Our Melbourne customers love the Earl Grey and Rose Cake Donut, while our Barangaroo customers love the Maple Walnut and Brown Butter Raised Donut, and our Darling Square customers love the Australian Honey and Sea Salt Cruller.
But we find that the classics – like the Vanilla Bean Raised or Boston Cream Filled – are consistently in the top three across all stores.
How do you enjoy coffee at home?
I love making coffee with my Moccamaster in the morning – it's simple, delicious and a quick way to brew a couple of cups in one go.
Where do you go to eat and drink and hang out on your days off in Melbourne or Sydney?
Byrdi at Melbourne Central is one of my new favourite places in Melbourne. They have a simple menu of cocktails, wine, coffee and a few small food dishes, but everything they do is delicious and created with such an amazing level of care and consideration. I haven't managed to make it in for a while, but I can't wait to go back!